Monday, February 9, 2015

Pearltrees - Visually Organize and Share Collections of Files and Links

Pearltrees is a visual bookmarking tool that I first tried nearly five years ago. Over the years it has changed in response to feedback from its users. One of those changes was a transition from free-form webs of related files and links to its current format of visual squares and folders. I'm a big fan of the current format.

Pearltrees now allows you to organize collections of links, videos, images, and files. All of your collections appear in your Pearltrees homescreen and from there you can access and add to any of your collections. The new format makes it easy to drag-and-drop files from your desktop to a collection in your Pearltrees account. The Pearltrees browser extension enables you to quickly add content from a webpage to your collections. To combine folders or create sub-folders simply drag and drop one folder on top of another just like you do when making folders of apps on an iPad. Speaking of iPads, Pearltrees works the same way in your web browser as it does in their free iPad and Android apps.

Pearltrees offers a handful of ways to share your collections of resources. In addition to the typical methods of Tweeting, Facebooking, and emailing collections, you can embed your collections into a webpage. Embedding your collection into a webpage could be a great way to share collections of resources with your students when they visit your classroom or course blog.

Applications for Education
Pearltrees recently published a good guide to using their service in schools. Included in that guide are tutorials for teachers and use cases for education. One of the use cases that stands out is the option to collaborate with students on the development of collections of resources during a research project.

Last but not least, Pearltrees now offers a slideshow display option that you can use when viewing all of the resources in a collection. Simply click on any item in a collection to launch the slideshow. Using the slideshow format could be a good way to have students quickly take turns discussing the resources that they have added to a collaboratively created collection. I envision doing this by opening a slideshow and flipping through the slides. When a resource that a student has added pops-up he or she will have 20-30 seconds to talk about why he or she added that resource.

Organizing Research with Diigo Outliner

This is a guest post from Beth Holland of EdTechTeacher, an advertiser on this site.

I have been a huge fan of Diigo for quite some time. Unlike other social bookmarking sites, Diigo allows me to save links from any device, tag them, and even create collaborative groups such as this one on iPads. It will also allow me to highlight and add notes within the text of any web article and then save those notes to my Diigo Library from any computer, iOS, or Android device. The video tutorial below from Greg Kulowiec gives a great overview of what is possible when using Diigo via the web.

However, most exciting of all is the newest feature from Diigo - Outliners! Consider this challenge. Students begin researching a particular project. They gather a number of online resources, but then become quickly overwhelmed when they see the magnitude of the information absent of context. With Diigo Outliners, students can digitally organize all of their resources into an outline to later guide the creation of their final research paper or project.

Consider this process:
  1. Students conduct online research using Diigo. As they read, they highlight, add notes, and tag their content.
  2. Students create a new Outliner. Before adding any of their links, they could first type an overarching structure to guide their research - whether it be key questions to answer or topics and sub-topics.
  3. Because resources are tagged, students then start dragging bookmarks into place in their Outliner.

To see what this could look like, I created this Outliner to support my research into Project Based Learning for an upcoming workshop.

Diigo also offers FREE Educator Accounts which provides unlimited access as well as a teacher console which allows for the creation of student accounts to support group research.

To learn more, know that Beth Holland will be leading a number of EdTechTeacher workshops this summer in 6 cities across the United States.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Skaffl - Distribute, Collect, and Grade Assignments on Your iPad

Skaffl is a free iPad app that is designed to help you distribute, collect, and grade assignments on your iPad. Like similar apps, on Skaffl you can create classrooms that your students join through a class code. Once your classroom is created you can distribute assignments and hand-outs to your students. Assignments can be created in the app or you can attach items created outside of the Skaffl app. Your students can submit work through the app. You can grade your students’ assignments directly within the app. Assignments that aren’t going to be graded (a rough draft of an essay, for example) can be annotated by you to provide students with ungraded feedback.

Applications for Education
Skaffl could be a good solution for teachers who want a simple way to distribute and collect assignments without wading through a myriad of extra features that they won’t use.

If you're looking for a similar app that does a little bit more than Skaffl, take a look at Otus, GoClass, or Nearpod.

Connect Fours - A Fun, New Review Game from @RusselTarr

My friend Russel Tarr, who recently took me to a party with Sophie Ellis-Bextor, sent me Twitter DM earlier today about his new review game called Connect Fours. Connect Fours is based on the concept of the connect wall in the BBC gameshow Only Connect. The idea is that you have to create four sets of four related terms from sixteen terms displayed on the board. For example, I created a game about the four major professional sports leagues in the United States. Sixteen team names are displayed on the board and players have to arrange the teams according to the leagues that they belong to.

Applications for Education
Playing a Connect Fours game could be a good way for students to review big concepts from a unit of study. One of the sample games that Russel offers is all about World War I. Sixteen terms related to WWI are displayed and students have to sort them into four themes about WWI.

To create your own Connect Fours game head to the game page and select "create new game." On the next screen enter the terms that you want displayed on your game along with the title for the groupings of terms (see my screenshot below for clarification). Your game will be assigned its own URL that you can distribute however you see fit.

The Pre-Conference

On Saturday morning I posted a fun thread for sharing "welcome to teaching moments." There are some good stories on that thread. This video that Ken Haynes at BoomWriter sent to me isn't exactly a "welcome to teaching moment," but it is a fun video that most of us can relate to.

Disclosure: BoomWriter is an advertiser on this blog.